Google Lays Off Thousands More Employees Despite Record Profits One Year After Laying off 12,000 Employees As Workers Begin Worrying AI is Slowly Replacing Them

Feb 20, 2024

Google has initiated significant layoffs across its various teams, including the Voice Assistant, hardware, engineering and ad sales teams, marking a continuation of the tech industry’s trend towards reducing workforce expenses. The layoffs have affected hundreds of employees within the Voice Assistant unit; hardware teams responsible for Pixel, Nest and Fitbit products; and a considerable portion of the augmented reality (AR) team. This move is part of Google’s broader effort to streamline operations and align resources with its most significant product priorities​​.

According to The Verge, the total number is in the thousands. This comes at a time when Google parent, Alphabet Inc., reported record profits in late January. The company reported $20.4 billion in net income in Q4.

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The ad sales team has seen a reduction, specifically targeting the Large Customer Sales (LCS) unit, which is responsible for selling ads to large businesses. The restructuring aims to focus more on the Google Customer Solutions (GCS) team, which deals with smaller business clients, indicating a strategic shift in Google’s approach to ad sales​​.

The layoffs have sparked widespread concern among Google employees, not just about job security but also about the ethical implications of their work, especially as the company continues to invest heavily in advancing AI technology. There’s a growing apprehension that the push towards automation and AI could eventually lead to further job replacements, adding to the existing anxiety over layoffs​​.

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According to a recently leaked memo, AI is the #1 focus for Google going into 2024. Specifically, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, full list of goals for 2024 include:

  1. Deliver the world’s most advanced, safe, and responsible Al

  2. Improve knowledge, learning, creativity and productivity

  3. Build the most helpful personal computing platforms and devices.

  4. Enable organizations and developers to innovate on Google Cloud

  5. Provide the world’s most trusted products and platforms

  6. Build a Google that’s extraordinary for Googlers and the world

  7. Improve company velocity, efficiency and productivity and deliver durable cost savings

This situation has significantly affected employee morale, with many feeling disillusioned about their future at the company, according to Inc. The layoffs and the strategic emphasis on AI development have led to a sense of cynicism and burnout among the workforce, exacerbated by the fear of being replaced by the very technologies they are helping to create.

Late last year, there were already worries within the company that AI was going to begin replacing employees at Alphabet. Futurism reported late last year the technology giant has already begun the process of replacing some jobs with AI tools developed internally. But this differs from what Google’s senior vice president, Philipp Schindler, said on a recent earnings call about the recent restructuring and job cuts.

Schindler said,  “I want to be clear, when we restructure, there’s always an opportunity to be more efficient and smarter in how we service and grow our customers.” He went on to say, “We’re not restructuring because AI is taking away roles that’s important here. But we see significant opportunities here with our AI-powered solution to actually deliver incredible ROI at scale, and that’s why we’re doing some of those adjustments.”

Google’s restructuring and layoffs reflect the broader challenges facing the tech industry, where companies are grappling with financial pressures and the ethical considerations of AI and automation. The impact on employee morale and the potential for future job cuts highlight the delicate balance between innovation and the human cost of technological advancement.

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